WASHINGTON (Nov. 23)
A bipartisan group of 67 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State William P. Rogers today urging the State Department to confirm immediately the U.S. citizenship of Leonid Rigerman, a 30-year-old Soviet Jew. Mr. Rigerman was seized by police on the U.S. Embassy steps in Moscow two weeks ago after he filed an application for American citizenship. He was charged with resisting an officer and spent seven days in jail. He was reportedly freed last Wednesday but sources here believe he is in imminent danger of long-term punishment for his attempts to establish American citizenship in order to leave the country. Mr. Rigerman has based his citizenship application on the fact that his mother is American-born and his father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He was born in Russia.
The letter to Mr. Rogers was released by Rep. James H. Scheuer, New York Democrat. In an accompanying statement. Mr. Scheuer said: “It is becoming perfectly clear that the Soviet Union is using its international anti-Israel position as a pretext to step up active anti-Semitism within the Soviet Union.” The Congressman contended that “the case of Mr. Rigerman is only a single example of what is happening to Jews in the Soviet Union. While there are limits to what our government can appropriately do to counteract Soviet anti-Semitism, here is one case where immediate State Department action can help one human being.” A State Department spokesman said earlier today that no decision has been made yet in the Rigerman case. The Department was said to be seeking additional information from Mr. Rigerman.